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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: Sammy's Absence
By nicole wian


Celina came home and put the baby carrier on the floor, her heart heavy, immediately feeling Sammy’s absence. Before, Sammy would have come running, upon hearing the door open, her tail wagging. Even before licking Celina, she would have sniffed baby, Lucy.

But now Sammy was gone. Celina had taken her to the Humane Society today, and her heart was breaking over it. She felt sick about having to return her to the same place she’d brought her home from, three years ago. Sammy had already been four years old when they’d adopted her, but Celina had known right away she was the one, part Australian Cattle Herder and part who knows what. She’d been allowed to take her on a leash in an area designed to get to know the dogs, and she knew by the way Sammy had permitted her two year old to walk her on that leash, so patiently, that this was the right dog. Her son had known too. Zach was at Grandma’s today, and Celina would have to figure out how to break it to him that his best friend would not be returning.

When they’d brought Sammy home that day, her husband had taken one look and said, “I am not keeping that mutt.”

But after he’d seen how good Sammy was with their boy, how much Zach already loved her, he of course had caved. And so Sammy had been welcomed into their family. An older dog, she was already well behaved and potty trained, actually an angel of a dog. Celina now looked around the house, saw the food bowl still there in the corner of the kitchen, and started to cry. She took the baby out of the carrier and cradling her carried her to the rocker where she sat down with her. Lucy was sleeping, but Celina didn’t want to put her in her cradle just yet. That would bring back the saddest memory, too vividly.

Sammy had been a friend to everyone in the household, even the cat, who was already meowing and searching the house for his playmate. It had been the cutest thing. They didn’t know how the cat would take to having a dog around, but it ended up being something right out of a calendar, the ones where the cat and dog cuddle. So strange, too, since neither were babies upon meeting. But they’d developed a fondness for each other, despite the fact that Sammy had a habit of “herding” the cat around the house, nipping the back of it’s neck. The cat wouldn’t even swat, would humor Sammy.

So now what were they all supposed to do without their dear friend? Finally, Celina decided to lay the baby down. She placed Lucy in the cradle, and then stood staring at the baby, almost waiting for Sammy to come by her side to peer over, as well.

That’s when it had started. When Sammy had changed. They’d brought the baby home from the hospital, and Sammy became confused, believing the baby to be her own. She’d vigilantly watch Lucy day and night. When the baby cried, Sammy would look at Lucy, then to Celina and back to Lucy. If Celina didn’t get up quickly enough, Sammy would trot over to make sure everything was okay. She even needed to sit right next to the baby when she was getting her diaper changed or nursing. It was adorable and sweet.

But then Sammy began to distrust other people. Her maternal instinct kicked in overdrive, and she would have to be put away when friends came over to visit. She’d never been like that before. Now, on walks, she’d growl and bark menacingly at anyone who came their way. They began to fear that Sammy would eventually hurt someone.

And then she did. She escaped from the yard one day and chased an innocent teenage boy walking down the sidewalk, apparently too close to the house in Sammy’s opinion, and actually bit him.

Their dog had bit someone. Yes, out of protection for the family, but not in a truly justifiable manner, and so Sammy had to go. The dog that they all loved so much and that they knew without a doubt loved them, would give her life for them, had to be sent away. And they didn’t know what her fate would be.

Celina wasn’t sure it was biblical but had to hope somehow that it was true that “all dogs go to heaven.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw05/22/08
Oh, that is so sad! What a precious mama doggy! Thank you for sharing this story. If it's a true one, I'm sure it was difficult to write.
Marilyn Schnepp 05/23/08
Such a sad, but sweet story. So many questions went through my head: Would a doggie Psychiatrist have helped? Perhaps separating the baby from Sammy? Some tranquilizer pills? Less contact with baby...but I guess all was done. (I'm assuming this is non-fiction).
But well written, and thanks for enlightening us to what can happen when "attachment" gets out of hand.